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New COVID-19 cases surge 12 percent in past week, fourth wave looms

New coronavirus cases in the United States have surged by double digits over the last seven days, as the country prepares for another potentially deadly wave of infections and hospitalizations in the coming weeks. 

The latest seven-day average of new cases ballooned to 63,000 for the first time in weeks, according to data compiled by The Washington Post, driven mainly by spiking rates in states like Michigan, Vermont and North Dakota. 

On Monday the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an impassioned plea to Americans to not let their guards down as federal and state officials work to vaccinate as many Americans as possible and as quickly as possible with the warmer months approaching. 

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"I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I'm scared," Director Rochelle Walensky said while fighting back tears during a briefing with reporters. "We do not have the luxury of inaction." 

The CDC reported this week hospitalizations have also spiked the past week. The most recent seven-day average was about 4,800 admissions a day, an increase from 4,600 admissions per day in the prior seven days.

Later on Monday, President BidenJoe BidenFour members of Sikh community among victims in Indianapolis shooting Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE implored local elected officials to slow reopening processes and resist calls to rescind mask mandates and social distancing measures. 

"I'm reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate," Biden said from the White House. "Please, this is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down." 

Several states like Texas, Arizona and Georgia have dropped mask mandates due to a falling number of cases. 

On vaccine distribution, Biden announced this week that federal health officials have estimated almost all adults in the United States, about 90 percent, would be eligible for a vaccine by April 19. 

“If you've not gotten your shot yet, get it this week," Biden told seniors and others at greater risk of contracting the virus. 

The United States has recorded more than 30 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 550,000 Americans have died from the disease.